Bethany Lutheran Church - Ishpeming Michigan

Pastor's Reflections

In this Reformation 500 year I’ve been reading more of Martin Luther’s writings than I have in quite awhile. He’s always interesting although he does present challenges as mixed in with some brilliant theological insights there can be nasty invective aimed at anyone who disagrees with him, the pope being a frequent target. Luther wasn’t always very good about following his own teaching on the 8th Commandment about not bearing false witness which, in his explanation, includes slander and destroying reputations. He wasn’t perfect, but then he didn’t pretend to be.

In my reading though, I’ve been surprised at how often Luther talks about the importance of the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer which of course are the heart of his catechisms. In particular, in several of his writings when he talks about prayer he encourages using the commandments, the creed and the Lord’s Prayer as the basis for prayer because, he says, “the total content of Scripture and preaching and everything a Christian needs to know is quite fully and richly comprehended in these three items.”

With Lent beginning on March 1st with Ash Wednesday, I would encourage you to take Luther up on his suggestion and make praying with the Small Catechism part of your Lenten discipline this year. It can be difficult sometimes to come up with a meaningful Lenten discipline but particularly in this year when we mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, this approach to prayer could be meaningful.

The technique that Luther suggests is to take it in small doses—for example, taking the First Commandment along with what it means and spending time with it, considering what it means to have no other gods and what it means to fear, love and trust God above all things. With that, for any of us, will come the realization that we don’t always do it very well which is also worthy of contemplation and meditation, as we identify the “small g” gods that can become all important to us. With that realization comes recognition of the need for God’s grace and forgiveness and also the need to act to reprioritize our lives.

All of this is very Lenten. At first it may not be what you normally think of as prayer, but that’s exactly what it is as it winds up being a conversation with God. The challenge and the key to this kind of prayer is to go slow, taking one commandment at a time or one petition of the Lord’s Prayer at a time, as you move into the creed perhaps taking only a few words or a phrase at a time and really turning it over and probing, not just rushing to be done. Part of what Lent is about is repentance for the sake of renewal and this approach can be a new way to approach that. You may still have your catechism from when you were confirmed. If not, I have copies available. Some will be in the narthex or you can ask me for one. If we need more we’ll get more.

Bishop Skrenes has long encouraged churches to make use of the catechism and in this Reformation 500 year ELCA Churchwide Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has also invited all congregations to engage the catechism in some fashion. This can be a good way for us to follow the lead of our bishops and a good way to help observe the season of Lent.

Please join me!

Pastor Geier

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Bethany Lutheran Church •715 Mather Avenue • Ishpeming, MI 49849
Rev. Warren Geier, Pastor •E-mail: revwgeier@charterinternet.com
Phone: 906-486-4351 •Fax: 906-486-9640 •E-mail: bethanyim@hotmail.com
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